[Royals] God And Abstinence | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

[Royals] God And Abstinence

At the Mississippi Department of Human Services' May 16 summit entitled "Abstinence Works: Let's Talk About It," we didn't talk about abstinence. But we sure did chant, cheer, dance, pray and sing about it. Here are a few (of the many) things that stood out to me.

Before the summit began, rap music blasted over the speakers. The 5,000 kids in attendance spent their time inside dancing and singing along to Soulja Boy's hit song "Crank Dat," the chorus of which repeats, "Watch me crank that soulja boy, then superman that ho," which most young people know is a disgustingly explicit sexual innuendo. Shortly after, the Grenada Middle School cheerleaders performed their catchy cheer "Stop, don't touch me there! You know this is my no-no square," outlining the shape of a box around their shorts.

Talk about mixed messages.

The event was state-sponsored and state funded, but Rev. Gary Bell led the rowdy group in prayer, closing with "in the name of Jesus Christ." Performers sang about the glory of God and performed interpretative dancing to gospel songs. Judge John Hudson's speech quoted the Bible and reviewed the Ten Commandments.

How does that relate to abstinence? According to Hudson, the commandment "Do not commit adultery" directly translates to "Do not engage in promiscuous sex, or sex before marriage." The constant and overzealous harping on God and Jesus wasn't just wrong because it ostracized anyone who didn't prescribe to a particular brand of Christianity; it was wrong because it was illegal. Taxpayer and state money funded the event, and last time I checked it is unconstitutional to use those funds to promote a specific religious message or agenda.

The main speaker, David Mahan, CEO of Frontline Youth Communications, spoke for 90 minutes and amazingly kept the kids' attention most of the time. However, he provided erroneous information, employing allegories and analogies to skirt the subject. An example is: "Fire is good in the fireplace," a witty allusion to sex within marriage. But did he talk about the increasing rate of HIV infections within marriages? No.

He did, however, make misogynistic declarations such as: "There is nothing more beautiful and nasty than childbirth. A pregnant woman will rip the skin off your arm." He later mimicked the teenage girls who call his wife, a pregnancy crisis counselor, in the middle of the night: "At 3:30 or 4 in the morning, I answer the phone ... and the girl says 'I'm a little embarrassed to say this, but I think I might be pregnant. I don't know how that happened.Ҕ He imitated the girl using a ditzy, high-pitched voice.

Neither Mahan nor any of the speakers offered information on what to do if abstinence fails. Did he talk about proper use of condoms or birth control? No, but he did make the offhand and scientifically unfounded comment that condoms are "pieces of rubber that deteriorate in your back pocket. They only work some of the time." But the medical community considers an 87 to 98 percent effectiveness rate in preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy as more than "some of the time."

And how did the summit address the LGBTQ community? Well, it didn't. In most states, certainly Mississippi, same-sex marriage rights are not recognized, so how are they supposed to handle their sexuality?

I would like to know why scientifically valuable and life-saving information is being censored and made unavailable, and to what end? Mississippi has spent more than $16 million in abstinence-only programs, yet the state ranked No. 1 in teen births in 2009, and in the top five in STD infection numbers. Mississippi even took the No. 1 spot in 2006 with the highest number of gonorrhea infections.

As a college student, it's not difficult to remember the anxious, insecure days of preadolescence and teenagedom. I tried to put myself in the place of the kids who attended the pep rally—I mean, summit. I would have walked out of the Mississippi Coliseum that day humming a new tune or chanting a new cheer, but my level of sexual education would not have improved.

In fact, it would have been dangerously stunted.

Kate Royals is a senior at Millsaps College and a former JFP intern. This column appeared in the Huffington Post.

Previous Comments

ID
148809
Comment

“Stop, don’t touch me there! You know this is my no-no square." Some might argue that spending $16 million on "sex education" of this sort is an appalling waste of money, but I say that it is only through sufficient pep that we will reduce teen pregnancy. We must have the courage of our hypocrisy, the sanctimony of our baloney, and the rectitude of our pulchritude if we are to have any hope of keeping Satan out of our underpants. “Stop, don’t touch me there! You know this is my no-no square." Money well spent!

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-06-18T15:05:18-06:00
ID
148810
Comment

This is absolutely atrocious! I certainly do not want my tax dollars going to spread religious views under the guise of "abstinence education". Had the event centered around STDs, real pregnancy rates, costs of a child, etc., I would be more amenable. It seems this event, as Kate says, is both confusing and nonfactual. Courts have already ruled that school-led prayer is not allowed, this seems to go way beyond a teacher having the class say grace before lunch (as I was forced to endure as a child in South Mississippi and, from what I hear, many kids today still endure in many rural schools) I wonder what a tax payer could do to bring this blatant abuse of taxpayer dollars into the open and have it ceased? As a parent, I'm sure there are some rights, but for those of us not directly involved, it may be more difficult. I would certainly take that case myself.

Author
rnslaw
Date
2009-06-18T15:22:13-06:00
ID
148811
Comment

I'm trying to picture playing Soulja Boy music at a "religious" rally.

Author
golden eagle
Date
2009-06-18T15:22:24-06:00
ID
148813
Comment

We must have the courage of our hypocrisy, the sanctimony of our baloney, and the rectitude of our pulchritude if we are to have any hope of keeping Satan out of our underpants. Well said, Brian. Classic...

Author
Ronni_Mott
Date
2009-06-18T16:43:22-06:00
ID
148814
Comment

At the risk of getting yelled at again for going against the preferred beliefs of the JFP.... ;) Abstinence works if you practice it. Since we do have the #1 Teen Birth rate, it means there are a lot of teenagers who aren't Abstaining.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-06-18T17:25:29-06:00
ID
148815
Comment

...which means that abstinence, as a public education policy, doesn't work.

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-06-18T19:12:51-06:00
ID
148816
Comment

I didn't mean to be so abrupt, Iron, but when I saw that cheerleaders were doing a "no-no square" dance, the absurdity overwhelmed me. The central issue is the so-called State Department's flagrant proselytizing for evangelical Christianity in the name of "sex education." You can see a video about the event here, courtesy of the ACLU. If I may quote the invocation for this state-funded "educational" event: "Lord, I just thank you for this morning, I thank you for this gathering that's here, today Lord. You're so wonderful that you can bring this together, Lord. Lord, I pray this in your precious name, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." Couldn't he have at least mentioned the State of Mississippi, which paid for the event? Incredibly, the rally was the "Fifth Annual Abstinence Works, Let's Talk About It! Teens Speaking Up Summit." Or as I like to call it, the "Fifth Annual Abstinence Works for a While, Let's Talk About It, Most Adults Don't Wait for Marriage But Keep Your Mouth Shut, Official State of Mississippi Bible Camp."

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-06-18T19:29:59-06:00
ID
148817
Comment

God forbid, literally, that we teach teens how to be responsible adults. The hypocrisy here sickens me, because these "educators" pretend like they were plucked from nunneries. Yet, almost every adult has sex outside of marriage. If we use children to project "the way things out to be," we simply saddle them with our anxieties. I know only a couple of adults who married their first sexual partner. Sex education should teach teens about what is actually happening with their bodies. Any American has the option of going to Sunday School, and that's a wonderful thing. But school should be school, not some misinformation revival.

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-06-18T19:43:21-06:00
ID
148818
Comment

More "rules," courtesy of state-sponsored Judge John Hudson: "Where did these rules of abstinence come from, to begin with? Well it all begins as you well know, with our Creator, when he created you and me. He looked at us, and what did He say? After He created human beings? He said, 'This is good. This is good.' ... And what God said was, 'Abstain. Stop. You see, He knew clearly what was best for us.'"

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-06-18T19:49:27-06:00
ID
148819
Comment

Actually, I'm pretty sure he said "be fruitful and multiply"...

Author
Tom Head
Date
2009-06-18T20:02:31-06:00
ID
148820
Comment

Oh, I can imagine how absurd it looks. Abstinence does have a place however, in the curriculum. I'm not sure I like the government teaching sex ed. Too many things there kids should ideally hear from parents. I know life isn't like that, however.

Author
Ironghost
Date
2009-06-18T20:02:35-06:00
ID
148821
Comment

"The State of Mississippi put on this teen summit, and advertised that it was going to be sponsoring this event. It selected all of the speakers. It allowed a Christian sermon to take place under the umbrella of an event that it was sponsoring." - Brigitte Amiri, ACLU

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-06-18T20:17:31-06:00
ID
148824
Comment

In short, why does our message to youth have to be so dishonest? We should be able to say, "It's better to wait until you're an adult before you have sex. But we are going to teach you about your body and birth control. You should know that there is this thing called 'the condom.' Please use a condom if you have sex." Madness!

Author
Brian C Johnson
Date
2009-06-18T21:28:03-06:00
ID
148829
Comment

I've always been a bit unclear on how you teach "abstinence" if you cannot explain what the students are supposed to abstain from. Because, uh, that might mean they'd do it. I believe abstinence is a good idea for young people. I do not believe that government has any right trying to legislate it, nor do they have any idea how. Abstinence programs are much more about the adults pretending to be virtuous. People will spend a lot of taxpayer money pretending to be holier than thou. It'd be a different argument if it was actually working. As it is, it is ridiculous waste of taxpayer money on the facade that it *ought* to work.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-06-18T22:03:03-06:00
ID
148830
Comment

Oh, and cheers to Kate, a former JFP intern. This piece first appeared on Huffington Post, and we asked to reprint it. I've asked her to write more columns for us.

Author
DonnaLadd
Date
2009-06-18T22:03:50-06:00
ID
148835
Comment

Some teens do choose abstinence. For others, abstinence is chosen for them... We should be honest with kids and provide full disclosure as part of a sex ed course. Abstinence is the best way for a young person to avoid pregnancy and STDs. Those that desire to be sexually active, condoms are a must, even if they not 100% against any and all STDs or pregnancies, and this should be explained in detail. For the rest, a jar of hand cream and box of tissues is sufficient...

Author
Jeff Lucas
Date
2009-06-19T06:25:50-06:00
ID
148837
Comment

May I have her number?

Author
jbreland
Date
2009-06-19T11:39:48-06:00

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